Friday, February 28, 2014


Last week I broke down and did something that I had been meaning to do for months and months. It was the final step to moving back into my sewing room from my temporary (ahem, since the fall) sewing set up in our formal dining room. I recovered my office mini ironing board cover.

I bought it from Ikea years ago. I love that the tiny legs fold up and and you can hang it up for storage. But, over time it became flat, and ripped and stained beyond recognition. It was so flat, it would leave grid marks on my fabric.

While going through my fabric bins, I realized I had backing from my newest quilt finish that was just the perfect size for my ironing board. In retrospect, the recovering was so fast, I'm not sure why it took me so long to get to it...

I took the old cover off and pulled out the strings that gave it that 'curved around the board' effect. I was going to re-use them, but apparently melted them while trying to iron the cover flat. Once I had ironed out (ha!) the cover into a flat surface, it was my pattern piece. I cut out my new cover using this, as well as one layer of fusible fleece, one layer of batting and one layer of old white fabric that I would never actually quilt with.

I fused the fleece to the white fabric and tested both this layer and the batting on for size. They needed a bit of trimming but would work fine.

To prepare the cover, I used cream extra wide double fold bias tape and just eased it around the fabric, sewing it down on the inner edge of the tape. I was worried about sewing the tape on the curves and started to pin, but in the end, I found it easier to just slowly feed the tape around the fabric as I was sewing. When I got back to where I started, I clipped the tape, I folded in the end of the tape and stitched it down. This left a sort of tube effect for feeding the string.

For "string", since I had absolutely nothing appropriate, and had melted the one provided, I used 1/4" elastic, which turned out perfect. Once fed through, I layered my board. Against the metal was the initial padding from the store (I'm all for re-using), the layer of quilt batting (also a scrap), then the fusible fleece/fabric combo, fabric side up, then , then the cover. Once in place, I had one of my kids hold one end of the elastic while I pulled the other end (really, really tight) and tied a bow around the hangy bit on the underside. All told, this took maybe 45 minutes.

The extra padding makes this board a dream use and the sunny yellow dots add just the perfect amount of fun (and a whole lot of happy) to my new/old sewing space.

That being said, I've got some pressing to do...

Happy Friday!

This is my finish to link with finish it up Friday.

Friday, February 21, 2014

up, up and away

So, today's quilt didn't even have a chance at becoming a UFO. This was one of the fastest moving projects I've made, simply because I just didn't want to stop till it was done. It was that fun to make.

I quilted it with a single, off-set spiral. I was really inspired by Amanda Jeans tutorial on spiral quilting. I just love the effect it gives. It's so modern, and fresh, and adds a kind of movement to a quilt top. I had designed my quilt with this in mind.

The backing I chose was a largish golden yellow polka dot, also a basic by Riley Blake. I cannot tell you how much I LOVE this backing. It's just so happy.

For the binding, I used a Riley Blake navy and white chevron, which picked up the navy in the gingham triangles.

As I mentioned in my last post about this quilt, this was my first time participating in a fabric challenge with the MQG. This past Monday, at our VMQG meeting, I was able to show this quilt and the hexagon quilt to our guild. Needless to say, as it was my first time participating in a show and tell, I was terrified. Thankfully I made it through. I imagine this part of things will get easier.

Wednesday, I found out that my quilt was chosen as one of 10 entries, out of 390, to be finalists in the challenge. Seriously, I was floored. I could not believe it.

Of the 10 entries chosen, 3 will be chosen in the next week for prizes. Simply making it into the top 10, when there were so many amazing entries was such an honor. Really.

I am giving the quilt to my little munchkin this week. He's gonna love it. I can only hope he feels the happy that was sewn in with every stitch.

Linking up with Amanda Jean for finish it up Friday.

Friday, February 14, 2014

up, up and away - from concept to quilt top

I was torn on whether to share this quilt in its quilt top state. It has been such a fun, fun quilt to make, that I've barely put it down to take pictures. But I've decided to go for it.

I'm a relatively new member of the VMQG. One of the first challenge projects that I've had a chance to participate in is the Basics Challenge with Riley Blake Designs. I was so excited when I picked up my fabrics at last months meeting.

I had absolutely no idea what to make so I laid them out on my sewing desk, and while working on other things, I let the ideas percolate.
Then I went to the drawing board. I toyed with doing something using a pattern from a designer, but in the end, decided to be brave and design something myself.

This is a win win project. This is my challenge entry and it will also be my baby's first "big boy quilt". It's a bit early to make him one, but he really is a big boy, and the baby quilts I made him when he was tiny are so easily kicked off and more often than not, he sleeps uncovered in his crib. I wanted to make this quilt "un-kickable".

It took a day or two to hash out a plan and do the math, in between all the other things moms do.
I have to say how much I LOVED this process. (This is new to me, so I wasn't expecting that.)

Then I did a few test blocks. These are some of the bits left over. (They are so pretty.)

I decided to throw in a tiny little accent. I fiddled with some flying geese blocks and made this tiny little sequence. I love it. It measures around 2 inches by 1 inch, per unit.

The background fabric is a Moda Bella grey that I love and just might have bought a bolt of... The bits of color are solid scraps from my collection.

After some sewing and trimming and pressing, there was a quilt top. I apologize for the quality of photos. I didn't stop to take proper pictures during this process (just Ipad pics). I didn't expect it to move so quickly. 

The finished top has so many things I love about it. I love the color and the motion, and how the bits of the challenge fabrics play so well with everyone else.

This quilt wouldn't have had a backing so quickly if it weren't for my amazing hubby. He left work early to hit the fabric store (nearer to him than to me) before it closed and found me the perfect backing fabric AND binding fabric, that matched the guidelines for the MQG challenge. Yes, it probably took 30 minutes on the phone and quite a bit of hunting on his part, but he did it. And they were so much better than I imagined. (But you'll have to wait for finished pictures to see it ... in color.)

When laying out the backing and trying to determine my piecing plan, my little guy found his quilt. And boy was he pleased with it. It was a swirly, wrinkly mess in 30 seconds flat. He LOVED it. And it wasn't even done.

One more nap for him and it was basted. This just might be my favorite quilt ever. At least until the next favorite one.

Linking up for finish it up Friday with Amanda Jean.

Friday, February 7, 2014

a hexagon quilt, finished

This has been a big month for me. I finally feel like I'm making progress on some old (old) projects that have been sitting around the sewing room.

It is amazing how good that feels.

My first big finish of the year in the world of old WIP's is my Chinese Lantern Hexagon quilt.

I started this quilt around 3 years ago. I was struck by the fabric at a local quilt store and had recently been bitten by the hexy craze. (In retrospect, I believe that this is also where my obsession with teals and turquoises and blues and greens came from.)

The pattern was something I designed myself. It is really simple. I drew a hexagon (using the circle method) onto template plastic using a compass. The radius was 5.5 inches, and from point to point the hexagon measures 11 inches. After using the template to cut out my hexagons, I laid them out in a off-set hexagon pattern, one row with 7 hexagons, and the next with 6 hexagons and a half hexagon on either end.

To stitch them together, I watched a u-tube video on y-seams, and away I went. It only took me 3 years. (In all honesty, the actual piecing didn't take that long... it was all the life in between that was behind the delay. And procrastination - that may have had a part in it.)

In the last year, I completed the quilt top, and then I pieced a lovely quilt back. And then I had the brilliant idea (BRILLIANT) of hand-quilting the entire quilt. I started quilting it, and got pretty far along, but I got hung up on what to do in the middle of the hexagons. I hadn't thought out my plan for quilting when I began, so any ideas I had now wouldn't work with the existing hand-quilting.

And then it sat, and sat, and sat, while periodically being rearranged like a piece of furniture. Last week, I snapped. This quilt needed to be done, and it needed to be done immediately, because quite frankly, I was tired of looking at it in its unfinished state. And needless to say, it no longer inspired me with it's current quilting.

 My new bamboo Clover stitch ripper and I got busy.

The next day, within about 2 hours, the quilt was quilted with an allover stipple, and the binding was being prepared. The finished quilt measures 62 x 46 inches. It's not huge, but it's a great lap size.

I finished hand-stitching the binding this week and I am SO pleased that I went with quilting it this way. It had sat around long enough. Now it's done and ready to be enjoyed by someone that really loves it (and that hasn't been staring at it for 3 years).

I know just the person.

Linking up with Amanda Jean for finish it up Friday.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

a knitterly goal

Our local yarn shop, 88 Stitches, is having a kind of knitting challenge during the next few weeks, in conjunction with the Winter Olympics.

I've decided to join in and challenge myself to knitting a Grace sweater found in Jane Richmond's Island book. It is a beautiful, classic sweater. I'll be casting on tomorrow morning. I've swatched, and measured, and tested out the lace pattern.

This project just begged for a new yarn bowl pouch. (My current yarn bowl/project bag is occupied by my "Color Affection" shawl.)

This pouch is very, very loosely styled by Anna Graham of Noodle-head's open wide pouch. I've used the dimensions for the large pouch, but everything else, construction procedure, zipper application, and so on,  have been adapted to my way of sewing pouches, which seems to be somewhat unique.

Anyways, for this pouch, I used a striped chambray style material for the base, and a couple prints by Tula Pink's Saltwater line that I absolutely adore.

For the yarn, I chose an amazing colored fingering yarn by Sweet Fiber called Super Sweet Sock in the Temperate color way.  It's a gorgeous tealish green, with a kind of aqua shimmer woven in. It's going to be great.

I love it. And I can't wait to cast on tomorrow.